Head of a Woman (c.1892; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Head of a Woman - Paul Gauguin - c.1892; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleHead of a Woman
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Datec.1892; French Polynesia
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Head of a Woman

The artwork “Head of a Woman” by Paul Gauguin was created around 1892 during his time in French Polynesia. This piece is a sketch and study that embodies the Post-Impressionism movement. It is crafted using pencil and watercolor on paper and, as of the last known records, is held in a private collection.

The artwork displays the portrait of a woman in a somewhat stylized manner characteristic of Gauguin’s later work. The subject’s head is slightly tilted, and her gaze appears contemplative and distant. The use of pencil outlines to define the woman’s facial features is prominent, and these are softly accented with watercolors. The naturalism in the depiction of the subject’s face shows a delicate interplay between light and shadow, while the watercolors provide a subtle yet vibrant chromatic contrast. Her expression is solemn and introspective.

Dashes of red and orange around the head suggest her hair or possibly a head garment, providing a touch of warmth to the portrait. The light greenish-yellow hue applied to the face hints at an artificial lighting or stylistic choice rather than natural skin tones, which aligns with the post-impressionistic tendency to experiment with color.

There is a sense of immediacy and intimacy in the sketch, with the faintest suggestion of the woman’s hand brought near her face, reinforcing the reflective mood of the artwork. The simplicity of the background ensures that the focus remains on the woman’s features and her enigmatic expression. Overall, the artwork conveys a sense of serenity while demonstrating Gauguin’s interest in the people and culture of French Polynesia.

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